Near the edge, she stood, alone, overlooking the green grassy field that sloped down to the stream. Not tall, not assuming and not showy, her simplicity made her even more alluring. As we neared, we could see how callous time had been to her. The years were truly showing – the gnarled roots, the weather beaten bark, the humps where branches once stretched out from. She had stood there for as long as I could remember, stout and unwavering, through the generations, where she provided relief from the elements to many.
After a leisurely walk around the Botanical Gardens, Mum, Wuan and I sought some respite under her outstretched branches. The sun was beginning to scorch down on us. Fascinatingly, it was soothingly cool beneath her domed crown of lustrous green foliage. As we rested, we felt the vigour slowly returning. Despite the buzz of the afternoon crowd, we experienced serenity under her copious shade.
How much she had seen, we wondered. Surely she was privy to the sweet whispers between lovers as they leaned on her. She must have heard the delighted shrieks of children playing catch around her sturdy trunk. Unquestionably, she would also have quietly observed elderly couples reminisce about the years gone by as she unfailingly breathed some youthfulness into them again, as she had done time and again.
Yes, this ebony tree has witnessed them all and will continue to play witness for many generations to come. She knows untold human pain and passion. She knows the joys of being children, the carefree bliss of young lovers and the contentment of couples in their twilight years. Each time we seek refuge under her, she imparts to us a little of her wisdom of the ages. In turn we leave with her some part of ourselves to be silently chronicled, never to be told, never to be revealed.
One day, Wuan and I will retrace the steps that we took with Mum. We want to visit an old acquaintance. Mum left behind some part of herself with her. Wuan and I did too. Perhaps under her outstretched arms, we may discover something about ourselves we never knew. Perhaps under her comforting shadow, I may be able to relive some beautiful moments that I had with Mum and Dad when I was just a little boy trampling all over the green grassy slopes that she had watched over from her vantage point.